Blues guitar ace showing ‘Signs’ of a new album at Boogie N’ Blues festBY JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent August 16. 2017 1:05PM
If you go...WHO: Jonny Lang
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: White Mountain Boogie N' Blues Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Sugar Shack Campground, 2010 Route 175, Thornton
TICKETS & INFO: nhblues.com; 726-3867
Grammy Award-winning and platinum-selling artist Jonny Lang returns to his guitar-based roots on “Signs,” an album he’ll promote during this weekend’s White Mountain Boogie N’ Blues Festival in Thornton and then again in the fall at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.
Lang, 36, will make his first Granite State appearance Saturday night, headlining the three-day festival widely known as “The Boogie,” which starts Friday and runs through Sunday at a 72-acre stretch of land in the Pemigewasset River Valley. He plays the Casino Ballroom, 169 Ocean Blvd., on Saturday, Oct. 7.
In a recent interview, Lang talked about “Signs,” his sixth major-label effort. The album, slated to be released Sept. 8 in North America via Concord Records, combines elements of funk, rock, and blues. (The disc gets an Aug. 25 unveiling in Europe via Mascot records.)
“I’m really proud of this record,” Lang said. “It was really, really fun making this record. I got to make it with some of my favorite musicians in the world. It was a no-stress situation.”
“Signs” is Lang’s first album in four years and his eighth overall.
Lang’s guitar skills were noticed at an early age. He was just 15 when he released “Lie to Me,” an album that made it to No. 44 on the Billboard 200 charts. Each of his subsequent releases also have made the charts, with both 2006’s “Turn Around” and 2013’s “Fight for My Soul” peaking, respectively, as Billboard’s No. 1 Christian album and No. 1 blues album.
Lang, who counts Albert Collins, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy as musical influences, said “Signs” was done in about three months, with production beginning in Los Angeles and wrapping up in Nashville.
“The record goes a lot of directions stylistically from song to song,” Lang said. “I kind of meant it to look as one sort of piece; I don’t necessarily have a favorite song on there.”
He added that he is eager to play “The Boogie,” which in 2012 was named the “Best U.S. Blues Festival” by the Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation. Audiences will hear familiar as well as new songs.
“We try to hit as many of the records as we can but I suspect that we’ll have a fair amount of stuff worked up about that time” from the new album, he said.
Asked whether he had a goal in mind for “Signs,” Lang said the albums are “for anybody who can be helped by it or blessed by it. It doesn’t matter your age or demographic as long as it’s helping you out in some way. Then we’ve done our job.”
Brad Benton, who with his brother Mike run the Sugar Shack Campground and founded the White Mountain Boogie N’ Blues Festival as a way to pay the taxes on their family’s 180-acre farm, said he is thrilled to have Lang in the festival’s 2017 lineup.
The largest of the blues festivals in the state, “the Boogie” this year features 13 artists, all of whom are regional and/or national acts.
Friday’s slate, which begins at 5 p.m., will include Southern Avenue, Ghost Town Blues Band and New Orleans Suspects.
Saturday’s concerts start at 11 a.m., and culminate with Lang taking the stage at 8:30 p.m. The day’s slate also will feature Quinn Sullivan, Frank Bang & the Cook County Kings, Honey Island Swamp Band, Paul Deslauriers Band, and Dawn Tyler Watson.
Sunday’s concerts kick off at 11 a.m. and will include Blackburn Brothers, Chris O’Leary, Angel Forrest, and Mannish Boys All Stars.
In 2016, “the Boogie” was headlined by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Lang’s appearance this year is another feather in the cap, Benton said.
“When we first started, we had all local bands, and when we got a little bigger, we got a band to come up from Florida and we thought we were a real festival,” Benton said with a laugh. “But to have Jonny Lang here is phenomenal.”
Lang, who has shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith among other rock and blues legends, wears his celebrity lightly. He and his wife, Haylie, have five children, and “when I’m home it’s ‘daddy time,’ and I love it. I love being with my family, and the one downside to performing is leaving them.
“But I get to do what I love for a living,” Lang said, “so I’m not complaining.”
While “Signs” won’t be available for several weeks, fans already can download “Make It Move” for free at www.jonnylang.com.
Described as a “juke-joint stomp,” the song, reflects Lang’s personal experiences.
“There have been times in my life where I thought something would take care of itself, when I should have put some effort forth to help it happen,” said Lang. “Being proactive has been a weak spot for me, and the song is about doing your part to get things moving.”